How long should online retailers be allowed to store your credit card information? Who owns your medical data, when you upload it to an electronic health record? And how deeply should Internet browsers be able to mine your consumer data? These are the questions that keep Leslie Harris awake at night, and as CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, she’s often tapped to speak before Congress on just such issues.
“We maintain basic values around the Internet: innovation, individual freedom, and trust,” Harris says. Under Harris’s leadership, the CDT recently opened a West Coast office, doubled its efforts, and has provided guidance on Internet freedom to the Obama legislation.
Harris was instrumental in overturning the so-called Communications Decency Act, which created the highest level of protection for online speech and was instrumental in unleashing social media, and recently launched a much-watched Health Privacy Project. “The personal information you used to keep stored in your desk drawer is now stored with third parties online, including the government,” Harris says. “Getting a basic set of baseline rules approved by Congress is key in keeping in tune with technological advances.”